Several days ago, I got an e-mail from two longtime feminist activists who pointed out that the upcoming National General Assembly, Continental Congress 2.0 being planned for July 4th in Philadelphia had a gender problem. Despite a goal of delegate gender equity calling for there to be one woman and one man as delegates from each state, the current slate of candidates is overwhelmingly male. To date, no effort has been made to address this and as Rajchelle Miller and Carol A. Bouldin detail in their memo (excerpted below), when Rajchelle tried to run as a delegate, she was not allowed to sign up.
While it may not be possible to achieve total gender equity at this late date, there is still time to make a significant effort to rectify this situation and we urge the Congress organizers to act immediately on this and to devote time at the Congress to discussing why this happened and what can be done to assure that it doesn’t in the future. Here is Carol and Rajchelle’s memo:
TO: PARTICIPANTS AND STEERING COMMITTEE, NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, CONTINENTAL CONGRESS 2.0
FROM: RAJCHELLE MILLER, ASPIRING DELEGATE; CAROL A. BOULDIN, DELEGATE, ON BEHALF OF ALL WOMEN
SUBJECT: GENDER-BALANCED REPRESENTATION, ONE WOMAN ONE MAN PER DISTRICT
We are writing to urgently call your attention to the fact that the current list of delegate candidates DOES NOT MEET the stated intention to have ONE WOMAN and ONE MAN from each Congressional District, an essential feature of the National General Assembly document, and necessary to a successful, democratic and transformative assembly. The voter registration section of the website specifically declares to voters that there will be gender balance in the election of delegates: “On the weekend of June 1st, 2012, the People shall elect two Delegates, one identifying as male and one identifying as female, by democratic vote, from each of the existing 435 Congressional Districts, DC and PR, and four U.S territories, to represent the People at a National General Assembly.” We acknowledge the Assembly for this commitment.
As of May 25, the current gender balance of delegate candidates is 155 women and 495 men, a situation in which women are outnumbered over 3 to 1 and men exceed 50% of 876, the target total, both of which are unacceptable. When Rajchelle Miller, who is interested in becoming a delegate, attempted to access the “Become a Delegate” link on May 22, it went to a page with the message “Error 404 – Page Not Found”, and it would appear that delegate nomination has been prematurely closed in a state of gross gender imbalance, affecting many others who can still be and are needed as delegate candidates. This situation should be remedied right away. We suggest the following 4 steps:
- The “Become a Delegate” section of the Website be reactivated, and kept open through June 22, pending the achievement of equal numbers of women and men candidates.
- Email (and wherever possible, telephone) outreach be made to Occupy Delegate Candidates, Occupy websites, pro-democracy websites and women’s organization websites in every State to notify Occupy and related communities in every Congressional district, that women delegates are urgently needed, and are being actively recruited/drafted at this time to meet the necessary specifications of one woman and one man from each district of the original National General Assembly document. Each State Coordinator actively contact and recruit 8-11 women from its constituent occupy activist communities (and if need be, other online pro-democracy, pro-women) resources, alerting them to the current gender imbalance and the pressing need for more women candidates for the National General Assembly to meet the originally-intended goal.*
- The planned National General Assembly election, which we understand will be assisted by Votenet Solutions, is online, very convenient and quick, and therefore we suggest it be held June 23 instead of June 1, still leaving enough time for late-entry delegates to make travel arrangements for July 4. We assume the online election will use a “zipper” ticket approach, as is used in Scandinavia and other countries, and implied by the original document: Vote for one woman and one man from each district.
- It would appear that the National General Assembly Steering Committee is currently composed of two women and four men. We urge the addition of two more women to achieve balance of gender and in order to uphold its importance for the National General Assembly as well. If needed, we would be willing to join the Committee in order to offer support towards achieving gender balance.
One woman and one man from every district at the National General Assembly is the only evolved, intelligent, and fully human and planet-friendly solution; it is the central issue of human anthropology at the root of all grievances and solutions, and we feel that delaying the voting process long enough to allow for some outreach–with which we are ready and willing to assist–in order to achieve parity in this regard is vital.
This matter is Urgent and Time Sensitive. Your timely reply is requested and essential. Thank you for all your efforts towards an equitable assembly, and we will assist you in making this intention into a reality.
- Carol A. Bouldin, LMFT, Delegate Candidate
- Rajchelle Miller, Ph. D., Aspiring Delegate and Participant at Large
*Active recruitment and outreach to women is the way gender balance has been successfully achieved in many other countries. Journalist Thom Hartmann recently reported on the importance of it to democracy.
In time, this model of one woman and one man from each jurisdiction should also be sent to National General Assemblies and Occupy General Assemblies in other countries and international/global bodies. In the meantime, a simple but practical example of how (and an online location where) National General Assembly website participants can vote for gender balance in this National General Assembly, all national and regional general assemblies, and national congresses/parliaments, in our and all lands is available at: http://arkearthinbalance.webs.com/occupywithgenderbalance.html#Vote